Division of Nutritional Sciences at U of I celebrates 50 years

July 31, 2018

URBANA, Ill. - The Division of Nutritional Sciences (DNS), housed in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois is celebrating its 50th anniversary in October 2018.

Since the division’s establishment in 1968, DNS has become a highly respected interdisciplinary program that provides opportunities for graduate training in nutritional sciences and serves as a catalyst for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research.

DNS faculty (65) represent 17 departments and nine schools or colleges on the University of Illinois campuses in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago. Research focuses on optimizing nutrition across the lifespan to promote health and wellness and incorporates the analytical and theoretical approaches of other disciplines, including, genetics, behavior, immunology, bioengineering, cognitive neuroscience, and bioinformatics.

Interdisciplinary research and education are highly valued at U of I, and DNS is considered a model of such cooperation.

“DNS pioneered interdisciplinary research and training decades before other graduate programs at UIUC or elsewhere around the United States—to the benefit of over 450 master’s, PhD, and MD/PhD degree recipients,” says John Erdman, who has been involved with DNS in various roles for 42 of its 50 years, including serving as a past director of the division.

On Oct. 26 and 27, the division will mark its 50 years with a keynote speech from Erdman, a golf outing with Erdman, scientific presentations, and a dinner banquet. The celebration will highlight historical accomplishments of DNS, as well as future goals.

The golf outing with will take place on Oct. 26, from noon-5 p.m. in Urbana.

A morning program on Oct. 27 will include remarks from DNS and ACES leadership, as well as presentations from featured DNS alumni. A dinner reception that evening will feature a video on the history of DNS, as well as presentations from U of I President Emeritus Bob Easter and ACES Dean Kim Kidwell, and the keynote address from Erdman.

A professor emeritus in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I, Erdman studies how dietary changes, such as the consumption of tomato products, reduces the risk of prostate cancer. His research has evaluated the carotenoid lycopene, the main red color in tomatoes. His team uses ultrasound techniques for early detection of prostate cancer and tumor growth as well as monitoring development of non-alcohol liver disease. He also studies how lutein, another carotenoid pigment, impacts brain development.

“This event will be a moment to celebrate all of DNS’ accomplishments over 50 years of existence, to honor all of those who have contributed to the development of the division, and a great opportunity to interact with colleagues and make new acquaintances. I hope to see you there and meet you personally,” says current DNS director, Elvira de Mejia.

For more information on anniversary events and to register, visit nutrsci.illinois.edu. The deadline to register is Aug. 31.

Are you an alum of DNS? We would love to hear about what you are doing today in the field of nutritional sciences. Contact us at DNS50@illinois.edu to connect.

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